The entire holiday season can be an exercise in learning how to de-stress.
From talking politics at the table to the mania of shopping-baking-decorating to managing your budget.
But here’s a tip to allay your worries: you don’t have to skip it all and book a silent retreat in order to find calm. By simply following the core principles of living a nutritious life, it’s possible to balance your hormones and tap into your inner Zen. Start with these five research-tested tips.
How to de-stress during the holidays
1. Sleep Deep. Lack of adequate sleep is linked to mood disorders like anxiety and depression and also to weight gain, which can raise levels of cortisol, that nasty “stress hormone” that throws your mind and body out of whack in major ways. If you’re having trouble establishing a consistent routine amid holiday commitments, try outfitting your sleep space with tools like a Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock, which will wake you gradually with the light of a simulated sunrise so you hop out of bed with maximum energy and keep your circadian rhythms in check.
2. Live consciously. All it takes is five to ten minutes of peace per day. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, and in modern times has been shown to effectively reduce stress. Set aside a block of time and stick to it, whether that means just sitting still and focusing on your breath, trying a guided meditation via an app, or even going on a quiet stroll through the park. Just remember, don’t get caught up in meditating the “right way,” which will just lead to more stress. Do what is best for you.
3. Eat empowered. A sugar rush from refined carbs makes you feel good in the moment, but when the blood sugar comes down, you feel depressed and beat yourself up for having eaten that third cookie. Instead, focus on making sure your diet contains specific nutrients associated with stress relief. Dark green leafy vegetables and whole grains contain folic acid, a B vitamin, which is considered a mood stabilizer and a precursor to serotonin—a “feel good” hormone. Almonds are rich in vitamins B2 and E, magnesium, and zinc, nutrients associated with fighting the free radicals linked to stress in the heart. Plus, crunching down on them can be satisfying in managing feelings of aggression.
4. Nurture yourself. Pampering yourself may take up a little time, but the relaxation benefits will be worth it. Essential oils have been used in traditional medicine for centuries, and breathing in certain scents can make a huge difference in your mood. A couple days a week, take two extra minutes to light a therapy candle, apply a calming, scented moisturizer, or to give your pillow a spritz of relaxing lavender-scented spray.
5. Sweat often. Research has shown exercise can be a super effective strategy for reducing anxiety, and it boosts endorphins, which can make us happy and distract us from our daily worries. It also has other effects that can tangentially help you de-stress, like helping you sleep better at night and boosting self-confidence. One easy way to get motivated to move more? Try a fitness tracker like the FitBit Charge, which will give you fun feedback on how much you’re walking, running, and even breathing. Again, it’s all connected.
This blog was created in partnership with Withings.